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Full text of "My Country And My People"

33O          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY    PEOPLE

empire and a civilization, a China of living millions of toiling
humanity, with a desire to work and to live,, struggling against
floods and famines and bandit-soldiers and a bandit-gentry,
and living in a state of chaos without meaning, turmoil without
direction, unrest without change, verbiage without conviction,
action without purpose, and misery without hope. And if one
is a Chinese, one feels like saying with Hamlet that the time is
sadly out of joint and cursed are we born to set it right, or
crying out with the Hebrews, CCO Lord! How long?" and it is a
cry of despair which is not mere petulance, but a despair
based on an intimate knowledge of present-day China as no
foreigners know it.

Paint as one will a glorious picture of dream-China, the
China of her classics and philosophy and art, sooner or later
one will have to face the puzzle of a real China, and perhaps
through a process of long and painful thought, demand of the
past an answer to the present, and demand of the present a
meaning for the future. To glorify the past and paint the future
is easy, to survey the present and emerge with some light and
understanding is difficult. For between the glorious past and
the possibly glorious future there lies a valley, and one has to
descend in order to ascend. There is need for a robust realism
more than for innocent faith, and more for an open-eyed
wisdom than for patriotic ardour; for patriotic ardour is a
cheap commodity and can be had at so many cents a catty in
the form of printer's ink for the newspapers and blue paint
for the yamen walls.

There is a Chinese saying that it is better to be a dog in
peaceful times than be a man in times of unrest. All Chinese
are wishing they were dogs in peaceful times, but they have
not that luck. For we are living in a period of complete and
unmitigated disillusionment, in a period of lack of faith, not
only in the present revolution but in all revolutions. Mencius
has said that the greatest sorrow is the death of the heart, and
now truly the heart is dead. The optimism and cheerful
idealism of 1926 have given place to the cynicism and dis-
illusionment of 1934, a rumbling cynicism visible in all news-
paper articles and private talks.

Slowly and laboriously has come the realization that the